dogs trapped in hot cars risk heatstroke

As the Government lifts some of the lockdown restrictions in England and the weather gets warmer, animal welfare charities are once again launching the message that ‘Dogs Die in Hot Cars‘, urging the public not to risk their dogs’ lives by leaving them unattended in cars.

Forecasters predict another heatwave, with temperatures expected to reach the mid 20s, just as families are told they may go out in their cars for exercise and leisure again. 

RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said, “While the country is still in lockdown, the Government has eased some restrictions just as the weather forecast predicts more hot temperatures sweeping across the country. 

“It means more people are likely to be out and about with their dogs and we want to remind owners that dogs can struggle in the heat. We’d urge everybody to consider their pet’s welfare, and to never ever leave them alone in stationary vehicles on a warm day. Leaving your dog at home with access to water and somewhere that is cool is safer.”

Between 2009 and 2018, the RSPCA has received 72,733 complaints to its emergency hotline about animals in hot environments, with the majority relating to dogs in hot cars. The real number of dogs being left in hot cars is expected to be much higher as the main advice is to contact police to report an incident.

What to do if you see a dog in a car on a hot day

In an emergency, it is best to dial 999 and report a dog in a hot car to police. The RSPCA may not be able to attend quickly enough and, with no powers of entry, we need police assistance at such an incident.

If the situation becomes critical and police can’t attend, many people’s instinct is to break into the car to free the dog. But please be aware that, without proper justification, this could be classed as criminal damage. Make sure you tell the police of your intentions and take photos or footage of the dog as well as names and numbers of witnesses. The law states that you have a lawful excuse to commit damage if you believe that the owner of the property that you damage would consent to it if they knew the circumstances.

Once removed from the car, move the dog to a shaded/cool area and douse him/her with cool water. Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water. If the dog isn’t displaying signs of heatstroke, establish how long the dog has been in the car and make a note of the registration. Ask a member of staff to make an announcement of the situation over the tannoy, if possible, and get someone to stay with the dog to monitor its condition. Health

Image and video by RSPCA


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